Contextual Content

Iraq wants troop withdrawal deadline

The Iraqi government is demanding a definite deadline for US troop withdrawals. On July 7th Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki said Iraq would not accept any deal unless it contained a timetable for a full withdrawal of US troops from the country.
Iraq is under pressure from Washington to negotiate a security pact that extends the US military presence beyond 2008 when the UN mandate comes to an end. al-Maliki added that Iraq preferred a Memorandum of Understanding with Washington rather than the more formal Status of Forces Agreement.
This was echoed by Iraq’s national security adviser Muwaffaq al Rubaie the following day.
after a meeting in Najaf with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. The top Shiite cleric expressed his concerns over the security deal by calling it an excuse that would legitimize the US occupation of Iraq.

The Bush administration opposes any withdrawal timetable.

Washington had made one concession in negotiations earlier this month when they agreed to end the immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law enjoyed by US private security contractors.
But that announcement was greeted with caution in the streets of Baghdad.

The controversial security deal has faced fierce opposition in Iraq, on the streets and in parliament, as many believe the deal would turn the country into a US dependency.
But the call for a withdrawal timetable and the switch from a long-term or permanent agreement to a short-term Memorandum of Understanding could be a pretense, According to Political Science Professor Sabah al Nasseri

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Story Transcript

CARLO BASILONE (VOICEOVER): The Iraqi government is demanding a definite deadline for US troop withdrawals. On July 7, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Iraq would not accept any deal unless it contained a timetable for a full withdrawal of US troops from the country. Iraq is under pressure from Washington to negotiate a security pact that extends the US military presence beyond 2008, when the UN mandate comes to an end. Al-Maliki added that Iraq preferred a memorandum of understanding with Washington, rather than the more formal Status of Forces Agreement. This was echoed by Iraq’s national security adviser, Muwaffaq al-Rubaie, the following day: "We can’t have a memorandum of understanding with foreign forces unless it has dates and clear horizons determining their departure of foreign forces. We’re unambiguously talking about their departure. We are waiting impatiently for the day when the last foreign soldier leaves Iraq." The statement came following a meeting in Najaf with Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah, al-Sistani. The top Shiite cleric expressed his concerns over the security deal by calling it an excuse that would legitimize the US occupation of Iraq. The Bush administration opposes any withdrawal timetable.

GONZALOS GALLEGOS, US STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: The US government and the government of Iraq are in agreement that we, the US government, we want to withdraw. We will withdraw. However, that decision will be conditions-based.

BASILONE: Washington had made one concession in negotiations earlier this month when they agreed to end the immunity from prosecution under Iraq law enjoyed by US private security contractors. But that announcement was greeted with caution in the streets of Baghdad.

NAUFIL AL-BAHRANI, BAGHDAD RESIDENT (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Lifting immunity from security companies is something good, because they kill Iraqis in cold blood. By ending immunity, this will help Iraqi law review issues of such companies’ victims and chase them judicially. And this is something good.

BAHJIT AL-RUBAI, BAGHDAD RESIDENT (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): How does America agree to end immunity from such companies? It is something impossible, because they are Americans. They are criminals and killers. I don’t think America has agreed.

BASILONE: The controversial security deal has faced fierce opposition in Iraq, on the streets and in Parliament, as many believe the deal would turn the country into a US dependency. But the call for a withdrawal timetable and the switch from a long-term or permanent agreement to a short-term memorandum of understanding could be a pretense, according to political science professor Sabah al-Nasseri.

SABAH AL-NASSERI, PROF. POLITICAL SCIENCE, YORK UNIVERSITY: What they are doing now is trying to drag [inaudible] will have different kind of agreement, the memorandum of understanding, for a short term, not a long term. And through this agreement they’ll try to bypass the Iraqi government by arguing, "We don’t need, actually, the approval of the Parliament if we sign just a short-term agreement." So al-Sistani is giving them legitimacy to sign this short-term agreement with the United States and keeping at the same time, like, the face of the al-Maliki government by saying they did not sign a security agreement with the United States, and they insist on withdrawal of the troops of the United States from Iraq.

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